L1 use in EFL task-based interaction: a matter of gender?

European Journal of Applied Linguistics

This study analyzes the impact of gender on first language (L1) use and the functions it served during English as foreign language (EFL) task-based interaction. Participants were all Spanish EFL learners who worked in matched (male-male, female-female) and mixed (female-male) gender dyads on four communicative tasks: dictogloss, text editing, picture placement and picture differences task. The findings reported differences between females and males in L1 use and the functions it served during interaction: females employed their L1 more than males and the functions it served also varied in males and females. Moreover, differences were also found depending on the gender of the interlocutor, as males employed their L1 more when working with females, and the amount of some L1 functions differed when females worked with females or with males. This study supports a balanced use of the L1, as it helped these learners overcome their communication problems during their EFL task-based interaction.